Great Britain

Bradford photographer up for national award after inspirational project

AN acclaimed Bradford artist and photographer is in line for recognition after being nominated for a 2021 National Lottery Award. 

Carolyn Mendelsohn, who led the Through Our Lens project, has been shortlisted in the culture, arts and film category.

Photographers aged between 13 and 19 learnt how to use photography to document their experiences during lockdown as part of the programme which attempts to highlight the stories of teenagers which went unseen despite the huge impact of Covid-19 on their lives. 

They didn’t need to have every taken a photograph before to take part. Carolyn was keen that Through Our Lens was inclusive and built up the young people’s skills; gave them a focus, a community, and a sense of well-being at a challenging time.  

The images have been displayed on billboards, houses, lampposts and the sides of buildings, as well as online. The work is also being exhibited in a national exhibition at Impressions Gallery in 2022 planned as part of the project which received National Lottery funding from Arts Council England. 

Carolyn said: “To receive this nomination as come as quite a shock but is such a wonderful boost for the Through Our Lens project and all the young people involved. 

“I didn’t feel that the voices of teenagers were being heard during lockdown despite the huge impact it was having on their lives.

"By chronicling their experiences, it has helped foster a sense of community among those taking part and their audiences, provided a means of self-expression, built up their skills, and created an important historical record of this time.

"The original group of young people are now becoming mentors and supporting new members of Through Our Lens as the project develops and reaches out beyond the original ambition.”   

Carolyn also ran an eight-week photography workshop on Zoom with a group of children aged six to 11, looking at how they could tell their story in photographs.

The world as seen through their eyes during the pandemic is now the theme of a new outdoor photographic exhibition now on display at Cartwright Hall.

The exhibition, entitled Our World, shows a selection of the work produced by the group and can be seen on the Garden Wall Gallery outside Cartwright Hall Art Gallery in Lister Park until the end of August.

This year, more than 1,500 people were nominated for the work they have carried out with the help of National Lottery funding. 

Next month a panel, made up of representatives of The National Lottery and partners, will decide the winners in each category from a shortlist of five. 

Winners will be revealed in the autumn and will receive a £3,000 cash prize for their organisation and a coveted National Lottery Awards trophy. 

Jonathan Tuchner, from The National Lottery, added: “Since 1994, The National Lottery has made a huge positive impact on life across the UK.

"Thanks to National Lottery players and the £36 million raised each week for good causes, thousands of organisations are making an incredible impact and difference in their local areas.  

“The National Lottery Awards honour those who have stepped up and stood out like Carolyn Mendelsohn who work tirelessly for their community. They deserve great praise and our thanks for their incredible work.” 

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